Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.







Recently in Recordings

Félicien David: Songs for voice and piano

This well-packed disc is a delight and a revelation. Until now, even the most assiduous record collector had access to only a few of the nearly 100 songs published by Félicien David (1810-76), in recordings by such notable artists as Huguette Tourangeau, Ursula Mayer-Reinach, Udo Reinemann, and Joan Sutherland (the last-mentioned singing the duet “Les Hirondelles” with herself!).

John Taverner: Missa Corona spinea

This new release of John Taverner’s virtuosic and florid Missa Corona spinea (produced by Gimell Records) comes two years after The Tallis Scholars’ critically esteemed recording of the composer’s Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, which topped the UK Specialist Classical Album Chart for 6 weeks, and with which the ensemble celebrated their 40th anniversary. The recording also includes Taverner’s two settings of Dum transisset Sabbatum.

“Nessun Dorma — The Puccini Album”

Sounds swirl with an urgent emotionality and meandering virtuosity on Jonas Kaufmann’s new Puccini album—the “real one”, according to Kaufmann, whose works were also released earlier this year on Decca records, allegedly without his approval.

Honegger: Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher

Marion Cotillard and Marc Soustrot bring the drama to the sweeping score of Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne dArc au bûcher, an adaptation of the Trial of Joan of Arc

Far in the Heavens — Choral Music of Stephen Paulus

Stephen Paulus provided the musical world, and particularly the choral world, with music both provocative and pleasing through a combination of lyricism and a modern-Romantic tonal palette.

Review: You Promised Me Everything

Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.

Donizetti: Les Martyrs

As the editor of Opera magazine, John Allison, notes in his editorial in the June issue, Donizetti fans are currently spoilt for choice, enjoying a ‘Donizetti revival’ with productions of several of the composer’s lesser known works cropping up in houses around the world.

Green: Mélodies françaises sur des poèmes de Verlaine

Philippe Jaroussky lends poetry and poise to the sounds of nineteenth- and twentieth-century France

A worthy tribute for a vocal seductress of the ancient régime

Carolyn Sampson has long avoided the harsh glare of stardom but become a favourite singer for “those in the know” — and if you are not one of those it is about time you were.

Schubert’s Winterreise by Matthias Goerne

This Winterreise is the final instalment of Matthias Goerne’s series of Schubert lieder for Harmonia Mundi and it brings the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition, begun in 2008, to a dark, harrowing close.

Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice

This elegant, smartly-paced film turns Gluck’s Orfeo into a Dostoevskian study of a guilt-wracked misanthrope, portrayed by American countertenor Bejun Mehta.

Die Entführung aus dem Serail @ Hangar-7

We see the characters first in two boxes at an opera house. The five singers share a box and stare at the stage. But Konstanze’s eye is caught by a man in a box opposite: Bassa Selim (actor Tobias Moretti), who stares steadily at her and broods in voiceover at having lost her, his inspiration.

Richard Strauss: Notturno

Richard Strauss may be most closely associated with the soprano voice but this recording of a selection of the composer’s lieder by baritone Thomas Hampson is a welcome reminder that the rapt lyricism of Strauss’s settings can be rendered with equal beauty and character by the low male voice.

Bernarda Fink Sings Mahler Lieder

Bernarda Fink’s recording of Gustav Mahler’s Lieder is an important new release that includes outstanding performances of the composer’s well-known songs, along with compelling readings of some less-familiar ones.

Gergiev’s Das Rheingold

Das Rheingold launches what is perhaps the single most ambitious project in opera, Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen

Hänsel und Gretel

This live performance of Laurent Pelly’s Glyndebourne staging of Humperdinck’s affectionately regarded fairy tale opera, was recorded at Glyndebourne Opera House in July and August 2010, and the handsomely produced disc set — the discs are presented in a hard-backed, glossy-leaved book and supplemented by numerous production photographs and an informative article by Julian Johnson — is certainly stylish and unquestionably recommendable.

Magdalena Kožená: Love and Longing

Recorded at a live performance in 2012, this CD brings together an eclectic selection of turn-of-the-century orchestral songs and affirms the extraordinary versatility, musicianship and technical accomplishment of mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená.

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon

Once I was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon features an assortment of songs by Ricky Ian Gordon interpreted by soprano Stacey Tappan, a longtime friend of the composer since their work on his opera Morning Star at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Amore e Tormento

Alfredo Kraus, one of the most astute artists in operatic history in terms of careful management of technique and vocal resources, once said in an interview that ‘you have to make a choice when you start to sing and decide whether you want to service the music, and be at the top of your art, or if you want to be a very popular tenor.’ 

Rivals—Arias for Farinelli & Co.

In generations past, an important singer’s first recording of Italian arias would almost invariably have included the music of Verdi. 



Gaetano Donizetti: Don Pasquale
04 Jul 2007

DONIZETTI: Don Pasquale

An ingenious and handsome staging, in the proper period and full of delicious color, fashion and furnishings, a production that honors the compatibility of tradition with good fun, and four singers who look their parts, play the farce, and are as easy on the ears as on the eyes — what more could you want from a Don Pasquale?

Gaetano Donizetti: Don Pasquale

Ferruccio Furlanetto, Nuccia Focile, Gregory Kunde, Lucio Gallo, Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala, Riccardo Muti (cond.). Production by Stefano Vizioli. Directed for TV and video by Patrizia Carmine.


$29.98  Click to buy

Item: Pasquale’s handsome wood-paneled library folds into a box — to be trundled on and off at will. But on the side of the box is a grand baroque window to overlook the garden serenade of the last scene, and that ornamental window looks suspiciously like a jowly old man with bald pate, bulging eyes, pork nose and gaping, furious mouth — a pun on an ornamental style and on the story of the piece.

Item: Part one concludes with “Sofronia,” fresh from her convent and dressed in demure gray gown, bonnet and veil, usurping control of her new “husband’s” home; Part two then begins with the remodeled home full of rushing servants under the cold stare of that severe veiled figure — but it’s a trick; it’s only the costume on a dressmaker’s dummy, soon replaced by “Sofronia” herself in rather gayer attire.

Item: As “Sofronia,” now Norina, sings her last delicious waltz, a befuddled Pasquale sits alone, sadly isolated with “Sofronia’s” twinkling shawl — but Norina, with a kiss, and Ernesto, with an embracing arm, coax him to accept his defeat.

In short, the director’s “business” and the designers’ jokes take delicious advantage of opportunities found in the ancient story itself, but never push them beyond the bounds of wit or taste.

Ferruccio Furlanetto is the unsophisticated old rogue who learns a lesson; he sounds woolly and day-dreamy and fine, playing the unsophisticated aspirant roué who is in fact too shy to speak to a strange girl, though his delivery of the patter could be quicker. Nuccia Focile, whose soprano is gratefully, sensuously darker than the chirp of such classic Norinas as Grist and Sciutti, has no problem with the coloratura of “So anch’io la virtu magica,” but comes into her own in “Tornami a dir.” Her slimness and agility and very Italian features don’t hurt, and in her talent and vocal quality and care for the style she is, I think, the best candidate among young Italian sopranos for the mantle of Mirella Freni. Gregory Kunde gives Ernesto’s music an endearing bloom with fine arching phrases, and he makes a stalwart figure — for once our tenor is not a cipher. Lucio Gallo connives but does not distract as the doctor, whose plot is — well — the plot of the opera. Riccardo Muti, famous for following the score to the letter, seems to have noticed that Donizetti intended his last comic opera to sparkle; sparkle it does.

John Yohalem

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):